Monday, 7 December 2015

Trans People are Still Frightening some Parts of the Nation.

Under the Headline "Fast-track transgender teachers for a £30,000 grant, school heads told" (Monday 7th December 2015) in today's Telegraph, we are told that Schools are being offered £30,000 extra funding to hire and promote gay and transgender teachers.

It is clarified later in the article that "Schools can get a grant of up to £30,000 per project to provide training to existing teachers or recruit new staff to plug gaps in diversity, such as low number of gay or older teachers or staff with children. The fund encourages applications on the basis of so-called protected characteristics, defined by the Equality Act in 2010."

So in other words Schools don't have to promote Trans people to get the £30k; they have to become more diverse in their staffing to get £30k.

Why Headline Trans Teachers when it is really about Diversity?

The Telegraph (and I am sure the Mail tomorrow) singled out trans people, primarily because for their constituent reader group we are are still terrifying.

It is only 16 years ago that in the 1998 Consultation on the Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations 1999, the (then Labour) government sought the public's
“views on whether there should be a specific exception (to the employment of Trans people) for jobs which involve working with children. If so should all children be regarded as vulnerable up until 18 … or is this unnecessarily restrictive? Information would be helpful about the merits of (i) a comprehensive approach permitting discrimination against transsexuals for all jobs in schools, and for any work involving substantial contact with children under age 18, during the gender re-assignment process plus one year, ... or  (ii) a narrower approach which allowed employers to exclude transsexuals from work bringing them in contact with children regarding changing facilities (e.g. swimming trips) and sleeping accommodation (e.g. boarding schools) during the gender re- assignment process…)."
In those pre-social media days, PFC was given less than 3 weeks to respond to the consultation. The kitchen table was turned into a mail room, with our kids and their friends paid a fiver each to pack envelopes as we endeavoured to quickly inform the trans community of the proposals so that they could respond to the Consultation. Ultimately, over 800 trans people and friends did respond pointing out, amongst other things,that the proposals would ultimately lead to the dismissal of many teachers, nurses, and doctors who were trans and already satisfactorily doing this work with children and vulnerable people. 

Thankfully the proposals were watered down, but less than a year later we had to support a trans woman at an employment tribunal. A social carer fought to keep a her job attending to a disabled young person - a job which she had been already doing satisfactorily for more than a year (DA-v-Suffolk County Council (Employment Tribunal, Nov 1999). The young person, and their parents knew about her transition. Thankfully they were more than happy to attend court and state that they were extremely happy with the service she provided and wished it to continue. Fortunately, her local authority employer did not succeed - but their assumption all along had been that the family would prefer not to have a trans woman as a carer.

It is a frequent assumption - usually by middle-managers who are primarily concerned with what the customer, client, patient, student, etc. will think. They never actually ask the customer, client, patient, student., etc what they think. Instead they assume that 'of course' they will not wish to receive a service from a trans person. Sadly in many quarters, the 19650s-1970s attitude that trans people are mentally unstable, sexual perverts, whose very presence will harm children and the vulnerable still persists. 

The truth is that we are still the people that Telegraph Readers think will harm the kids.

What is it like to have other people being frightened of you? 

It is grim.
I had always wanted to teach, but had left teacher training college in 1973 because I knew I needed to transition if I hoped to live. Eight years later, with several years of experience as a TEFL teacher, I applied again. The doctor who undertook the medicals for prospective teachers took one look at my history and said
"absolutely no way - YOU People (I used to hate the way they said that) cannot possibly imagine you could be let near other people's children".
Ten years later, in 1991, when my partner and I wanted to try for a family, we knew that no adoption agency would even look at any application of ours, so instead we hoped to obtain donor insemination through a licensed fertility clinic. I won’t bore you with the whole story (and it went on and on and on ….) but eventually we reached a clinic with a visionary clinician. He was all for it, but he did have to have the matter put before the clinic’s Ethics committee. The committee decided (and I am paraphrasing here) that my partner (now wife) Sarah could never be a good enough woman to be allowed to become a mother whilst she was in love with someone like me.
My anger knew no bounds. It was then that I realised why I had spent 5 years taking a part-time law degree; to fight that sort of injustice.

We challenged the clinic, and of course they backed down rather than have a precedent set in court, and we were then lucky enough to have the opportunities and adventures that come with raising four amazing, well balanced, carefree, children – whom we are often told are a credit to us.

I had been a scout leader and group scout leader for 10 years, but in 1992, just after our daughter was born and just before I came out (in the full ‘public glare’ sense) I resigned, knowing that the Scout Association would have felt it had no choice but to dismiss me. However, one former scout very kindly wrote to say that it didn't matter one jot and he thanked me for being the very best scout leader he and his mates could have ever had. He was right of course; I was the best scout leader they could have had – not least because I knew all that campfire training in the Girl Guides had to be put to some good use, one day. 

At the time I also gave up a post I had held every summer for 8 years, as head of a language school – again knowing that the Company of which our centre was a part, would have felt they would have no choice but to dismiss me.

And so it went on. In 2001, the parents of our daughter’s best friend rang up. The mother said she was extremely concerned to have discovered my background – and as her daughter regularly came to stay with us and they were 'naturally' concerned. I listened carefully to what she had to say and then replied;
“Yes, I really do understand how very difficult it must be for you and that you do have concerns. I must say I had very much the same reaction and level of concern when I discovered that you and your husband are ‘born again’ Christians.”
It was one of my wittier moments, and I will give Debbie her due - she roared with laughter and replied “touché”. We have been very good friends ever since, much as our daughters have remained friends despite moving to different parts of the country and moving into very different lives.

Is this Fear Real?

Yes it is. But it isn't a real fear.
In 2005, when the Gender Recognition Act 2004 was in the process of being developed, the government held a private and limited consultation with both the Anglican Church and Press for Change. PFC stuck by the rules and we responded without seeking further consultation with the trans community. We had however been naïve. The Anglican Church had forwarded the consultation to all of its ministers, and consequently over 800 of them responded to the Government. That consultation resulted in the religious exemptions in the The Gender Recognition (Disclosure of Information) (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) (No. 2) Order 2005 which allow church ministers to grass on transsexual people, so as to ensure nobody accidentally conducts a marriage in an Anglican church of two people, one of whom is trans. I have copies of the responses made by Church Ministers to that consultation, and have gone through them all. 21% of them mentioned their concerns for the safety of the children in their churches if they were not allowed to discriminate against trans people. That was just ten years ago.

For some people, Trans people are still very frightening – mostly I suspect because they don’t know any of us, or rather they don’t know whether or not they know any of us. Partly that is our own fault; if we all came out, on mass, then they would certainly know that they knew at least one of us, possibly many more. 

Having now taught at a University for over twenty years, I know that by always being out as a trans man, I have personally ensured that thousands of my former students; young lawyers, HR managers, senior civil servants, judges etc. know that we really, really, are not at all frightening.  

Having said that, however, I still think we have a right to our privacy.

Some years ago, on her retirement, our friend Carol, who had been a primary school teacher for our each one of our four children came to visit. She said, she had something very important to say to Sarah and me. This is what she told us; Apparently, when she had been told that the children of a woman living with a transsexual were joining the school, she was sure she would meet 4 very damaged children. But, she wanted to tell us that having known our children and us, she now wished every child in that school could have had parents as thoughtful as Sarah and myself, in fact she wished every child in the school could have actually had Sarah and me as their parents.

It was the best thing that anyone I think has probably ever said to us. A vindication of the commitment we made to be truthful, fair, and considerate of our children as beings independent from ourselves. Carol had exonerated us of the guilt we had from daring to be so selfish as to want to have children and raise them.

And what has become of those children about whom everyone felt great concern because of me? In February, we as their parents will be bereft as all four of them will be in different continents, not one of them even in Europe. Our eldest daughter is going to teach and continue her own music in China, whilst our son is in Canada at University for a year, playing his cello with a local symphony orchestra and his trombone in a jazz ensemble. One of our twin daughters is in Australia picking oranges amongst other jobs on a gap year before going to University, and her sister is heading out to South and Central America to improve her Spanish and work on conservation projects before she also goes to University. 

As for us, we will be desperately waiting for next July when these wonderful young people will come home for a short while before the next series of adventures start. I am, of course, and rightly so, very proud of our kids – they are true contemporary world citizens, each with a strong conscience, an actioned environmental awareness, a tolerance which also means they do not judge others, a cleverness which they don’t flaunt, and a depth of understanding of what it is like to be comfortable in their own skin, which somebody like me could only dream of at their age.

These are the children people least needed to be worried about, because they were always truly wanted and will always be loved. As their parents we knew how privileged we were to be given the responsibility and role of helping them grow into themselves. But all we had to do, when we could stay awake, was tell them we loved them, often, and be true to them. Subsequently, we have been rewarded with children whom we now know as our friends. 

They are people of whom it will never be said that they are a waste of the world’s oxygen. 

Saturday, 13 June 2015

URGENT - Respond to the Fracking Consultation


STOP this Government Fast Tracking a ‘free for all Fracking boom’.

The Conservative government is trying to fast-track fracking. 

The changes, which have been VERY QUIETLY put out to public consultation, mean the advice of local residents would no longer be sought in the early stages of most new oil and gas developments. 

This is the eleventh consultation on such Draft Rules - just ask yourself, did you hear about the other consultations?

The proposal would allow 
"An operator who wishes to carry out a particular activity can look at the standard rules and, if they can comply with them, they may decide to apply for a standard permit. We are able to issue the permit more quickly and more cheaply because we have no decisions to make on site-specific permit conditions and therefore do not consult on them." 
Basically, the Government is attempting to fast-track fracking by doing away with the need for the public to be consulted before test drilling goes ahead. They want fossil fuel energy companies to be able to do test drilling *without* consulting local people first. 

Governments can ‘get away' with doing things we won’t like, by keeping consultations quiet and then rushing through regulatory changes which are never discussed in Parliament.

You have ONLY got until Monday 15th June 2015 to respond to the government consultation. 

Below is the letter I have sent – you can send something much shorter – and there is a suggested text on the 38 Degrees automated email page.

But, PLEASE TRY AND PERSONALISE your comments a little, or like a ‘postcard’ campaign, they will ignore your response.  Personalise it and they cannot ignore you.

The consultation is only open for two more days. Let’s flood it with objections. 

“Dear Sirs
As a responsible government, I trust that you will reconsider the proposal to change the way that permits to carry out test fracking are granted.
Texas: Before and After Fracking
Prior to becoming a legal academic, my first degree was in Geography.  In 1977, at University, we were discussing the desperate need to stop burning fossil fuels. The more we continue to burn, the closer the Doomsday clock will become to midnight. As a father, and hopefully one day a grandfather, I want my children and grandchildren to have a life of quality, not one approaching the apocalyptic images Hollywood delights in scaring us with. 

Fracking Wells in the Texas Landscape
I have seen the devastation that fracking has brought to the land in parts of Texas which now look like those post-apocalyptic visions. But other consequences are also quite astonishing. For example, since 2008 when fracking commenced, motor fatalities I Texas have bucked the national trend, and increased to now being the highest in the US. 51% of the accidents with fatalities involved commercial vehicles. Around some fracking sites, fatalities have more than quadrupled since 2004 — a period when most American roads have become much safer even as the population has grown. Analyses as to the reason for this show it requires 2,300 to 4,000 lorry trips per well to deliver the mixtures of water, sand, gravel and the over 700 different chemicals used in the fracking process. Older drilling techniques needed one-third to one-half as many trips. 

Close up of  a Fracking site in California
In the US, by mid 2014, researchers found there have been over 1,000 different cases of water contamination near fracking sites. In 2013, researchers from the University of Texas last year found levels of arsenic in groundwater near fracking sites, were on average, 18 times higher than in areas without fracking.
In New York state, scientists from the Department of Environmental Conservation analysed 13 samples of waste water and found "levels of radium-226, a derivative of uranium, as high as 267 times the limit safe for discharge into the environment and thousands of times the limit safe for people to drink". SAs I am sure you know, current sewage treatment plants are incapable of removing radioactive materials from waste water which is then discharged into rivers, which often then become part of the drinking water cycle.

The View out of the Window of a Texas Home
Fracking also pollutes air quality: in 2013 the American Environmental Protection Agency released a report which stated that the fracking industry emits “emits "large amounts of harmful pollutants that impact air quality on local, regional, and global levels”. Many of the chemicals used in fracking are potentially carcinogenic, and Air- borne toxic chemicals are considered extremely dangerous as they can cause cancer, harm the heart, and damage the lungs and eyes.

Furthermore, in Wyoming, for example, over 1,200 wells have been abandoned by companies which, having made huge profits during the lifetime of the wells, are now seeking bankruptcy so as to avoid the costs of cleaning up the well sites. 

Economist Max Keiser refers to fracking as ‘suicide economics’. Until we are 100% certain that fracking in the UK is going to be able to be regulated so that it is done in a way which does not pose a danger to the safety of local residents or their drinking water, or the air they breathe, or the land that will one day be returned to farming, every ‘automated’ approval is another twist in the hangman’s knot we appear to be tying for our children. 

As a responsible government, I trust that you will reconsider the proposal, in particular the changes that take away the limited safeguards local populations currently have. Recognising the austerity framework, we cannot however afford the sort of suicide economics that have seen the fracking industry devastate large areas within the USA. 

Please consider committing funding to ensure more independent ‘before the event’ scientific evaluation into:

  1. safer ways of fracking, 
  2. alternatives to fracking, 
  3. the impact fracking will have on the government’s commitments to rein in fossil fuel burning, and what it will mean for our climate change targets

Finally, applications by energy companies to carry out fracking tests must be assessed on a case-by-case basis. The concerns of local people must be listened to as part of this process and the views of scientists and experts in climate change, must be weighted heavily in any debate with those who support fracking. 
Fracking is a short term industry, creating huge profits for its investors. Climate change will see the long term devastation which our grandchildren will have to live with, no – which they will have to try and survive in. 
Yours etc. 

Friday, 29 May 2015

Today is one of those days - special, yet just the same as ever.

Is 60 the New 40?

Sarah says I must not write essays for Facebook. I am apparently meant to be short and pithy. Well in the rest of my life, I am pretty short, and can be occasionally pithy, and even more rarely, witty. However, I have been trained to write 1000 words and no less, on any subject.

When I was a brand new wee baby, my mum received a note from a hospital consultant: it  said "Your daughter is like a wrinkled old man, and highly unlikely to last 6 months". An inability to absorb Vitamin D meant Rickets with a vengeance. I survived but only to have to go to the school gym every morning for most of the next 16 years to undertake really tedious exercises.

And, today,  those exercises having worked, I am finally becoming that forecast wrinkled old man. I have reached 60, but am of a new generation; not even a bus pass or a free tv licence for my trouble!!! Damn.

What does this morning feel like? Well; I can tell I am still living in Manchester – it is pissing down as usual, but at least Sarah’s allotment is getting a good watering (more of that later).  The rain is a minus, but on the other hand, I’ve been to a few of the world’s deserts and Manchester is pretty fantastic compared to them.

I regularly reflect at how very lucky I am to have reached this great age. A few, dear, friends and colleagues have, sadly, already exited stage left and shuffled off this mortal coil.  So, though their loss is a dreadful minus, the fact that the child once forecast to have departed this earth about 59 1/2 years ago, is still thinking and that therefore I am, is a real plus.

In my past, there was a time when my somewhat modest dreams of a family, and suburbia, were only ever destined to be dreams. Yet, today, I have had all that was in those dreams, and so much more. I really do recognise what an amazingly privileged and exciting life I have had – and seem destined to continue to have for some time to come (I hope).

I am so glad that my kids are not boring. They may not have realised quite how much joy and fun they have given to me, as to be frank at times I was (am) such a miserable bastard – Sorry kids – but you are all such a multi-plus. The jokes (are they supposed to be funny?), the messing around, the banter, the laughter, the NOISE!!!, the music, the sound of the door as you arrive in at 4 am --- what an incredible amount of meaning you have given to my life. I used to say that the joy of having children is that they give you a real reason to go to work, and it was not just for peace and quiet. Rather the duties you brought to me as your parent, gave the structure and impetus to work,  to gain promotion, and bring home the money. But those same duties also provided a reason for coming home to the place where real life was happening. So kids, I know you all think I am very weird, but I have to say, I think much the same about all of you, and that is just brilliant.

As for friendships: I am astonished at how many amazing friends I still have, as I must be the worst person in the world for ‘keeping in touch’. I love the fact that now Facebook gives me a small window onto your lives. And when you are happy, I am really happy. Knowing you all has been such a massive multi-plus plus plus.

I also reckon that, much as though another 6 years seems like a form of torture akin to the rack, I have been fortunate enough to have one of the best jobs in the world over the last 20 years. Being an academic means so much more  freedom compared to any other job that is out there. Other jobs often seemed equivalent to being in an Iron Maiden – not only was there pain, but there was so little air or breathing space.

And, so to return to the allotment – the food has been beyond belief. As an ex-smoker, one of the very best reasons I can give anyone for not smoking is the taste of the food. Sarah, my very, very best friend with whom I have been fortunate enough to share most of my adult life not only grows most of our food, she then cooks it in the most amazing ways. That is not the best thing about Sarah – I could fill pages and pages and pages of what I love about Sarah, and what is best about Sarah  – but for this essay, I will stick with one of the biggest pluses which must be the food. And now you all know why my middle age spread is here to stay.

Does being 60 now mean I am old, or is this the new middle age? Is 60 the new 40?

A quick evaluation of the primarily qualitative, rather than quantitative data, above presents this as mostly a very positive point in life. I feel more ‘well in myself’ than I have done in years and for the first time in life I am almost depression free.
On the other hand, some interesting, objective, and more negative structural body developments in recent months include:
  • large parts of my beard have changed from mucky orangey/grey to soft, long straight, fluffy white hairs,
  • dieting now removes my bum rather than my tum; the middle-age spread (the only thing my father left me) seems destined to remain until the end now (whenever that is),
  • a first wrinkle is clearly visible on my forehead,
  • arthritic nodes have invaded my fingers,
  • bruising around the ankles indicates the veins no longer pump the blood as well as they used to,
  • after a lifetime of low blood pressure it has shot up in recent months, blinding most of my left eye - an arrow would have been a more romantic way than 40 years of enjoying deserts (note deserts, not deserts as per the places I have visited -see above), but the deserts have been a great joy I my life -  so I am not complaining,
  • the brown hair of my chest and eyebrows is becoming weirdly grey, and
  • every now and then, I discover an eight inch long, grey hair, that had not been there the day before, growing out of my knee, or elbow, or shoulder  - I mean, what the hell is that all about.
I intend to do a lot in the next 20 to 30 years - it cannot be much less than that, or I won’t get most of the list finished, and furthermore, Sarah will be really cross with me if I depart before the study is fully tidied and heaven knows how long that will take.

As the Americans would say: I loves you all. Be good and keep on with the adventures.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

The Death of the Inclusive,Tolerant, Trans Community?

Odysseus & the Sirens
I was astonished to discover that those  social justice campaigners, Peter Tatchell and Mary Beard, amongst others, had become the latest attack of the twittering trans-sirens.

What have they done? Peter and Mary had signed a letter outlining the problems with the latest 'No-Platforming' campaigns to exclude some speakers from University Campuses. (see Twitter mob who vowed to kill me over transgenderletter have it all wrong)

Like most academics, I am pretty absolute when it comes to free speech – and I am quite clear that the 'no platforming' campaigns demean us as humans, and reduces the  nature of academic debate to mere politicking.

There is a world of difference from speech to pointing guns. Just listening is the start of many a conversation. Without conversation, then effectively, we allow those who killed the staff at Charlie Hebdo to have won.

Peter Tatchell Campaigning on the streets.
I also believe good manners, like free speech, cost us nothing - but the loss of either is an attack on civilization itself.

Peter and Mary and all the other signatories - I am really very sad and sorry that you have also become victims to trans people who have failed to properly read the letter you signed, and if that is an unwarranted assertion, certainly have forgotten their manners.

The Latest Irritations

Over the years, as a feminist (and trans) academic, at times I have felt pretty cross with the likes of academics such Sheila Jeffreys, Germaine Greer, and even Julie Bindel (whom I count as an academic colleague and friend). Julie has changed her views over the years, and no longer writes pieces attacking our community. However, if she wrote now of the development of a vicious streak amongst some in the in the trans community, I might for once, find myself agreeing with her.

I have also find myself amazed, and feeling very cantankerous about the vicious streak of nastiness coming from those 'neo-feminists' who term themselves TERFS or trans exclusionary radical feminists, and who attack the very existence of trans people, especially trans women. But they are a world away the proto-2nd wave feminism of Germaine and Julie.

And, now,  I find myself despairing about the unkindness and in some cases, brutality, coming out of those people terming themselves as the new 'trans activists'. In the early days of the internet we built a trans community and movement based upon the principles of tolerance - but it seems that some, without any sense of history, or irony, are flushing that down the toilet.

Since shortly after it's founding in 1992, Press For Change has had a rule that we work by ‘making friends and not by making enemies’ – and if trans people want true inclusion, not mere tolerance, then I am still of the view that making friends is the way forward for our community.

If we don't recognise our true or potential friends, then we might never notice our enemies.

The Twittersphere

Unfortunately, a tweet (or a Facebook note) takes little energy output - and if people are socially isolated then the computer easily becomes the venting point for their anger and disappointments. I have a certain sympathy for those who find themselves using it in that way. But for those on the receiving end, it can seem very vicious and even frightening. I try to remember that the trans people who do that are just typing their frustrations, and not pointing a gun.

I have been less visible in the trans community in recent months, primarily because of such unkindness. Twitter's 'stings and arrows' can be horribly painful, as I personally know from having been twitter trolled by a trans person last year and, despite every effort to communicate, I ended up having to ask the police to intervene. Another trans person attacked everything I wrote or said. No matter how willing I was to compromise, or to seek a conversation, I realised I was socially and physically unprepared for the sheer brutality of what she was willing to do to undermine me.

Ageing now means I struggle with the related pain and fatigue of a chronic illness. It was all becoming too tiring and preventing me from doing what I do best - teaching law, and giving legal advice to the trans community. As such, I decided to concentrate on those, rather than kill myself engaging with people who wouldn't listen, never mind hear me.

Heroes like Peter Tatchell are regularly putting their lives on the line as they steadfastly seek inclusion, provide education, campaign to reduce poverty, struggle for world peace, and seek justice – in other words, working to create what was once referred to as the 'Kingdom of Heaven  on earth'.

I pray that despite the twittering he will remain strong and stay true to himself. He is one of my heroes.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Discovering a Baby's Gender

How do we Know a Baby's Gender? 

The Wisdom of Hindsight

I am a trans man, and my wife is a trans man's wife - that gives us a distinct advantage when thinking about the complexities of sex and gender.

When a baby is born, most parents rely on the midwife’s cursory glance to tell the baby's sex and gender – but having seen 4 babies born, I can tell you that it is a very cursory glance, and we should be careful before we trust it.
The midwife certainly does not check whether a baby has testes, or a vagina, or uterus or ovaries. They check whether there is a penis of a certain length or not, and then they say “you have a boy (or a girl)”. 

When our oldest children were very young, and our twins were tiny babies, my son (aged 3 and ½) asked: 
"Mum, Dad, how do you know the babies are girls?". 
I looked at Sarah, thinking I have just been asked the most important question of my life and I don't know the answer ... but like  a knight in shining armour, Sarah rode to the rescue, and replied 
"Well ... you see we don't know whether they are girls. What we do is make a guess.
"We know that most babies born with vaginas will grow up to be girls, and most babies born with penises will grow up to be boys .... but as you know from Dad, and his friends - Christine, Jonathan etc. that isn't always the case.
"As the baby’s parents we make a guess - but it is only a guess. When the babies get older, if it turns out to be the wrong guess, and either or both of them  have grown up to be a boy, they will tell us.
"And then we can make the changes they would like us to make."
Son’s response: “OK”.

It really is that simple – we don’t know a baby’s gender.
We make a guess  - and it may be the right guess or the wrong guess.

As it happens, the girls grew up to be girls, and my son has grown up to be a boy .... so far. 

But we are not so blind as to believe that either their gender or their sexual orientation was sorted by the time they were born.  

They grew into their gender identities somewhere between the ages of 3 and 5, and being currently aged 18 (the twins), 20 and 22, they are  growing into their sexual orientations - a process that may well take some time, and be dependant upon who they ultimately fall in love with.

Throughout the developmental periods of our children's lives, I insisted upon saying "When you have a boy friend or girl friend .... "  

One daughter  - she was 14 at the time - asked why I insisted upon doing that when she knew she was straight 

My reply:
 "I was lucky enough to find a person whom I fell in love with at first sight, and whom I am still in love with 30 years later.
"I would like all of you to find the person you will fall madly in love with at first sight - but that is only likely to happen if you keep the whole world in your sights.
"Shut out 50% of the population and you might, sadly, miss them altogether - which would be a terrible shame?"
Let's be thoughtful parents and give our kids a better set of choices in life than the one's we had.

The Promise of Being a Parent

Being a parent  is a huge responsibility - and most of us try hard to get it right. 

But what happens if a child grows up and is not  the person a parent had either dreamed of, or thought they might become. In fact, they seem the antipathy of that.

Sarah has spoken to many parents who have been distressed because their child has turned out to have different gender identity to the one ascribed to them at birth - and this is what she says:
 "Do you remember the day that tiny baby was born, and you held them in your arms and you made a promise. 
 "A promise that you would give your life, not for them to be rich, or famous, but simply for them to be happy. 
 "Well - today is the day you have to make that promise come true. You are not being asked to give your life, but simply a smile of approval. Thats all. 
 "So -  pull yourself together, and smile."
Like all parents, I can get irritated with one, or more, of my kids - but with luck I remember the promise I made, smile, and ask them what's up.